The Direct, Immediate, And Long-Term Impact Of Automation

Let’s break down the major possibilities of automation:

  • In the long-term, automation could mean an significant change in the labor force (both positive and negative) and consolidation of major industries
  • In the short-term, automation could mean a stress factor for industry and a trigger for conversation and strategic planning (first to market on certain ideas)

Right Now

We can talk about the long-term benefits of automation eliminating dangerous jobs and reducing the general cost of living for all of us, but right now and into the immediate future, automation is an identified risk that will impact labor, supply and demand chains, legislation and can even impact the moral compass of this country. 

Some examples of current automation would be:

  • Rows and rows of self-checkout lines without a human cashier in sight
  • Manufacturing plants that utilize equipment for efficiency and cost savings
  • Uber rolling out drones for food delivery


Automation isn’t a new concept. Automation can provide an opportunity for innovation, upward economic mobility, expansion of personal growth, etc. Using the farming industry for example, machines taking the place of horse and manual labor allowed farmers to grow more, expand into different crop, perform tasks on the farm that they could not find time to get to. Electricity in the early 1920s shifted the methodology and efficiency of farmers.

800 Million Jobs

On the backside of history comes the roaring forecast in the media surrounding automation. Many fear that manufacturing jobs in the US will likely be among the first major casualties of automation, with a McKinsey report from 2017 reporting that we could be losing around seventy-three million jobs by 2030, with a possible eight-hundred million jobs lost globally by that time. If you’re crunching the numbers in your head, know that there are currently around three billion working adults on the planet right now, meaning that a loss of eight-hundred million jobs would be almost a third of the entire global workforce.

The study reported that around half of all work duties currently performed by humans could very well be performed by machines over the next decade.

Time To Panic?

Big numbers always sound dire, but they rarely capture the whole picture. Those companies that have identified this as a real risk and have started to plan for it will be the ones left standing. Automation is coming. How is your organization’s strategy aligned to address this emerging/current risk?

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